What Oyster Crackers Are Really Made Of

For anyone living in New England, clam chowder is a popular soup choice that happens to be accompanied by oyster crackers. But what's in a name? Oyster crackers are small, salted, puffy crackers that are especially popular in New England and Cincinnati. According to The Kitchn, oyster crackers are said to have been first created by the Adam Exton Cracker Bakery in New Jersey in 1847, but the Westminster Cracker Company, located in New England, says that they've made the crackers since 1828. 

These little, crunchy soup additions are known to have been served with oyster stews in the Mid-19th century, and they generally still are in New England, where they are also a traditional accompaniment to any creamy clam chowder recipe. In Cincinnati, they're often served with the city's famous chili. 

The Kitchn reports that oyster crackers can go by a variety of other names such as Trenton crackers, water crackers, and Philadelphia crackers. But what are they made from and do they actually contain oysters? 

These crackers do not contain actual oysters

Some may be disappointed to learn that, no, there are no oysters in these crackers. They are shaped a bit like an oyster, and some versions even crack open as an oyster shell might, but that's all the oyster-esque you'll get out of them. The crackers are usually made with a mixture of enriched flour, baking powder, shortening, yeast, salt, and sugar. Some people might describe them as less salty saltine crackers. Once shaped, holes are indented in the dough, the oven temperature is set to low, and the crackers are slowly baked until crisp.  

The reason for the addition of oyster crackers to clam chowder and stews is that the crackers are quite sturdy and crunchy even after they've absorbed some of the liquid. Today, there are many different companies that make these crackers, and although the ingredients may vary from one manufacturer to another, the familiar size and shape mostly remain the same. And if you're not a fan of oyster crackers, you can always try one off the list of Mashed snack crackers ranked from worst to first.